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HIGH winds battered Europe today, killing at least four people in three countries, grounding flights, halting trains, ripping roofs off buildings and flipping over lorries.
Falling trees killed two 62-year-old men in the Netherlands, a woman south of the Belgian capital of Brussels and a 59-year-old man at a camping site in the German town of Emmerich, near the Dutch border.
Police spokeswoman Jose Albers told Dutch national broadcaster NOS that authorities were also investigating whether the powerful gusts were to blame for the death of a 66-year-old man who fell through a perspex roof in the central town of Vuren.
The national weather service recorded wind speeds of up to 87 mph in the southern port of Hook in Holland as the storm passed over.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol briefly halted flights for an hour in the morning. Flag carrier KLM had already scrapped more than 200 flights before the storm. And trains were halted across the nation.
Social media in the Netherlands was flooded with images of people being blown over, cargo containers falling off a ship and damage to buildings, including the roof peeling off an apartment block in the port city of Rotterdam.
Officials closed an inflatable storm barrier east of Amsterdam to prevent flooding as the storm pushed up water levels. Authorities also temporarily halted all trams and closed the city’s zoo.
Before halting all trains, the Dutch rail service reported numerous incidents, including a collision between a train and a trampoline. In Amsterdam, a man had a narrow escape when a tree was blown over onto his scooter. He escaped unhurt.
In neighbouring Belgium, the port of Ghent closed down because of the high winds and tram traffic was halted in parts of Brussels.
German police reported several injuries. Across western Germany, air and train traffic came partially to a halt, some 100,000 people were left without electricity and schools remained closed.
The square in front of Cologne Cathedral was cordoned off as a precaution amid fears masonry could be blown loose.
In Romania, snowstorms and high winds forced the closure of dozens of schools, several main roads and ports, and tens thousands of people were left without electricity.
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